all started with some guy entering
the post office, waving a shotgun around and shouting
"Kill 'em all! Let God sort 'em out!"
The next thing I know I'm standing in front of a pair
of huge golden gates, little clouds swirling about my
ankles. I could only suppose that I was in Heaven, which
came as quite a shock as I've never been what you call
a raging fundamentalist.
Over to the right I see some guy with a long
beard, a white robe and a pair of wings manning
deeply interested in what looks like a
Sudoku puzzle. I walk up to him, dodging a stray cumulo
nimbus or two, and ask what I'm supposed to do next.
"Next? Why, earn your eternal reward, of course."
"But... I'm an atheist", I said.
"So? Go on. Enjoy yourself. Have a good time."
"But isn't God supposed to, you know, sort us out or
The Gatekeeper's head popped up from his puzzle and told
me that I'd been watching too many movies. That, in
fact, we're all God's
children and that no one goes to Hell because there is
no such thing.
"But... the Bible says..."
"God didn't write the Bible, young man," he
said patiently, jotting down a number or two.
"Men wrote it, and for no other reason than to claim
authority of God's divine will. Pretty silly if you ask
"Besides", the Gatekeeper went on, "If
God had written a book no living human would have
been able to comprehend it. In the grand scheme of this
Mankind is a very insignficant organism."
flourish he filled in three more squares.
"Then why is there a Heaven? I'm sure God is capable
of creating such a thing but what's in it for him?"
but this isn't Heaven." He paused to fill in a square.
"This is just your subjective perception of Heaven.
A one-size-fits-all Paradise would be a most unpleasant
place for everyone. Wouldn't you agree?"
"Oh, I get it. The afterlife is limited by my frame of
reference, yet I still have free will."
"So if I wanted a mile-wide flat-screen TV and an olympic
pool-sized hot tub full of Swedish Hooter girls...
"Look, look, look... if you simply want to indulge in primitive
reproduction techniques and rot what's left of your
with popular culture then
quit bothering me." With that he finished off another sub-section, obviously
pleased with the result.
"Wait... I could reincarnate? Really?"
The soul is immutable so it has to be somewhere.
Keep in mind, however, that as attractive as
reincarnation sounds you
next time. If
so, you can kiss your clitoris goodbye."
"Ooh. Hadn't thought of that.
So the alternative is to step through those gates and... what?"
He bent down to his puzzle, turned his back, and resumed filling in squares.
"To be honest, I don't know.
No one's ever returned to tell me. So what have you decided?"
"I think you know."
"Good lad. Off you go, then."
As I stepped through the gate I looked back to see the old man fill in the
final square of the puzzle. A lone figure appeared from the mist and the Gatekeeper
smiled as he turned the page and began again.
On the Fifth Day of Xmas Shopping my
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"Happy Saturnalia" T-Shirt